Alstroemerias are useful garden plants and are undoubtedly great cut flowers but I can never really get excited about them. I can’t say quite why but I think it is because there is no real plant – its just a stick with flowers on the end – just like lilies really. I know I am being unfair because the ‘sticks’ are interesting in a way because of the way each leaf is twisted round so they are upside down. That must get them a few extra points for oddness. But bomareas get even more points because they are, to all intents and purposes, climbing altroemerias. So look away now if you don’t like plants that need support! It has been a few years since I have grown one but B. caldesii was looking spectacular at Glasnevin. Growing from fleshy roots that, like the related alstroemerias, hate disturbance, these South American, herbaceous climbers are differentiated from alstroemerias not just for their habit but the seed pods which do not explode like alstroemerias and the seeds which, in bomareas, are covered in a bright, fleshy coat – which should be removed before sowing. Seed is quite a good way to get hold of these plants and they germinate quite readily if stratified. If sown in autumn, leave the pot outside and the seeds should germinate in spring and the plants should flower in their second or third year. All the species come from South America, from Mexico down the Andean spine to the south of Chile and grow through shrubs so like some shade, while allowing the flowers to open in the sun. They hate high temeratures (above about 30c) and most will tolerate only a little frost if at all, though B. caldesii, once the rootstock is a few years old, and well mulched, will take a few degrees of frost. Plant in moist, humus rich soil and watch as the stems get taller with every new shoot and eventually erupt in a cluster of up to 50, spectacular, bell-shaped flowers, variously spotted, speckled and dotted. I once grew this under a large avocado in an unheated greenhouse where it reached about 2m but this plant at Glasnevin was probably twice this size with loads of stems climbing and arching over other shrubs.